SC seeks response on pleas challenging UAPA amendments

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today sought a response from the Centre on petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the amendments made in the UAPA.

The petitions challenges the changes to the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act on various grounds, including that these infringed upon fundamental rights of citizens and empowered agencies to declare a person a terrorist.

bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Ashok Bhushan issued notices to the central government on petitions filed by Sajal Awasthi and an NGO, Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR).

The bill for amendments to the UAPA was passed by Parliament on 2 August and it received the President’s assent on 9 August. The amended Act allows the Centre to designate individuals as terrorists and seize their properties.

The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act, 2019 also provides for putting a travel ban on such individuals once they are declared as terrorists. The petition filed by APCR said the amendments infringed upon the fundamental right to reputation and dignity under Article 21 of the Constitution, without substantive and procedural due process.

“Notifying an individual as a terrorist without giving him an opportunity of being heard violates the individual’s right to reputation and dignity, which is a facet of right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution,” the petition said.

It added that condemning a person unheard on a mere belief of the government was unreasonable, unjust, unfair, excessive, disproportionate and violated the due process.

“A person who is designated a terrorist, even if he is de-notified subsequently, faces a lifelong stigma and this tarnishes his reputation for life,” the plea said, adding that Section 35 of the amended Act did not mention when a person could be designated as a terrorist.